UFA, Russia -- Malcolm Subban's acrobatics, experience and flair has made him Canada's starting goaltender at the world junior hockey championship for now.
Instead of letting the goaltending question linger deep into the tournament, coach Steve Spott felt it better to end speculation after Canada's opening game and infuse Subban with the confidence of knowing he's the man in net for the tournament.
"Malcolm's play is going to dictate how far he goes, but right now he's the guy we're going to continue to run with and it's going to be up to him to carry the ball," the coach said Thursday.
The Belleville Bulls goalie has size, reach and speed, plus familiarity with the wider ice in Europe because Belleville's Yardman Arena is the same size. Subban, 6-2 and 200 pounds, sells his glove saves with a flick of the wrist, which tells the players in front of him "I got this."
"I feel like making those saves obviously helps a lot and making them a little fancy gives the team a little confidence," Subban said. "Just knowing your coaches have the confidence in you, that you're going to play all the games, that helps a lot obviously as well."
So after stopping 25 of 28 shots in Canada's 9-3 win over Germany to open the tournament, the 19-year-old from Toronto will be back in the net for Friday's Pool B game versus Slovakia.
Canada tops the pool at 1-0 with three points. The Slovaks forced Russia to overtime Wednesday before the hosts pulled out a 3-2 victory for two points.
A nervous moment in Canada's practice Thursday was a Boone Jenner collision with defencemen Xavier Ouellet in the neutral zone. Both players got slowly to their feet. Jenner can't play a game in the tournament until Monday because of a three-game suspension.
"They're both fine," Spott said. "I just went and checked on them."
Subban's point-blank pad save on Germany's Tobias Rieder in the third period Wednesday demonstrated he can make saves that change the tenor of a game.
"Everyone has seen that save that I don't think many people could make," goaltending coach Ron Tugnutt said. "When he makes that save, the bench kind of straightens up and gets excited."
The flaw in Subban's game since the start of selection camp in Calgary has been lapses of concentration resulting in soft goals.
Jordan Binnington of the Owen Sound Attack is less flamboyant in net, but his solid technique made the goaltending competition interesting at selection camp and in pre-tournament games.
Spott believes Subban has the mental resiliency to recover from gaffes, but prefers the Boston Bruins prospect not make them in the first place.
"These are one-goal games and if our goaltender goes to sleep for one second that could determine a gold or a silver medal.
"If there is a tough goal, he can shake it off and deal with it, but ultimately we have to make sure we don't give up those soft goals. It's critical."
Germany's three goals on Boxing Day can't be classified as weak, but Subban was battling nerves for two periods before Tugnutt told him to calm down.
"I was a little bit firmer on him, which I hadn't been before, and he responded with a really good third period," Tugnutt said.
Subban started watching the world junior tournament on television at age 12. He felt a personal connection to the 2008 and 2009 championships because older brother P.K. was a defenceman on both Canadian teams that won gold.
-- The Canadian Press
Team Canada was to play Slovakia at 3:30 a.m. today. For result and game details, see